Do we need to rethink our pets for the sake of the environment?

According to an Australian professor, the environmental cost of pet ownership is significant.
According to an Australian professor, the environmental cost of pet ownership is significant. Photo credit: File.

As last week's climate action marches showed, many in New Zealand are willing to do their part in the fight against climate change.

For most, doing their part means doing things like flying less, biking instead of driving and eating less meat.

But do we need to give up our pets too?

That's what some are suggesting.

According to an Australian professor, the environmental cost of pet ownership is significant.

Professor David Raubenheimer, an expert on nutritional ecology at Sydney University, told RNZ that we may need to rethink our view on pets.

"The carbon footprint of a large dog is significant," Prof Raubenheimer said.

Although he said he hopes that in the future there will be a drop in the ownership of dogs and cats, he doesn't advocate phasing out pet ownership completely.

"I'm not saying that we don't own cats and dogs at all, the issue is that we choose wisely as to which pet we do take on," he told RNZ.

One major issue with owning larger pets, he said, was the amount of food they consume, which has an effect on the environment.

Of course, owners should also consider other factors, too, when choosing a pet.

"Those owners should take into account all of the big issues in making their choice  - animal welfare, in relation to the foods that the pet eats, are other animals killed for that purpose, and the environmental impacts," he said. 

"The main thing is to think carefully about the broader consequences of which pet people choose to own."

He says those who do want to own a pet could consider animals apart from the traditional cats and dogs, such as hamsters, rabbits, mice or fish. 

Newshub.

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